Dear Body

Let me just start by saying how sorry I am. For the past 33 years, since the age of 10, I have looked upon you over and over again in sadness and shame and frustration, seeing all the things you are not, instead of seeing you for all the good things that you are.

I blame you for my crankiness in the morning, because of the pain and stiffness I feel for the first hour while I’m warming you up with coffee and movement. But the pain is meant to tell me something; to tell me to take some time to stretch, and to keep up with the exercises the physio gave me. But I just feel like that’s another thing to fit into my day, and it’s just easier to blame you for getting a little older and slower as the years go by.

I blame you when I get a little bigger, for not staying the same, as I help myself to another serve of ice cream or wine. Or both. I look in the mirror and frown, poking and prodding at all the soft bits that I wish would just disappear with little to no effort. Those soft bits helped me grow four beautiful babies, all overdue and on the larger side; you birthed them all with literal blood, sweat, bodily fluids and tears, and yet I just can’t seem to give you a break from my critical eyes.

I encourage my kids, my daughter in particular, to love her body, to appreciate her strength and to focus less on how it looks and more on what it can do, yet I can’t seem to extend the same courtesy to you.

I have splashed you in ink, for what purpose? Do I think that putting pretty colours on you will make you more beautiful than you already are? Why am I so intent on changing you? On changing your shape, on hardening the soft parts and wishing the jiggly bits away? Why do I feel apologetic for taking up too much space? As if anyone thinks that but me.

I have put you through so many diets and eating plans and exercise fads over the years, no wonder you are exhausted. And yet, like a loyal friend who will never leave my side, you turn up for me day after day for more. You do your best to rally your strength when I need it; to digest the new super food that will surely shed the “extra” kilos I’ve been holding onto for too long, so says my brain.

I look at other women’s bodies and compare and despair. I wish for their strength and tone and body composition and fewer wobbles. Sometimes I get in “the zone” and treat you wonderfully well. I nourish you with good food, I exercise and I do my best to sleep well. But we both know I’m only doing this in the hopes that you will change. That you will meet my impossibly high standards that I have set for myself, somewhere along the way. And when you don’t, I feel let down and disappointed; as if you have failed me once again; as if you are not good enough, just as you are. As if you don’t deserve my love and admiration and appreciation, just as you are.

I find photos of myself at my peak fitness which was ironically between having Darby and Julius, and I wonder why I can’t just work a bit harder to achieve that once more. But then what? Will I be happy? Of course not. I wasn’t even happy then – I still wanted to lose more weight. And then I’ll want to achieve the fitness and size I was before I had kids. This is possibly obtainable, but for what purpose? Will I be happy then? We both know the answer to that.

You let me know when I need to rest, and I don’t always listen; I’m stubborn and I overdo it or I stay up too late or I insist I know better and I push on with more, only to regret it the next day and blame you, once more, for not being able to jump out of bed to start a new day of making you feel like you’re not enough.

But sometimes I’m nice to you, right? Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and smile. Smile at the strength I’m making an effort to build; smile that I’ve been fuelling you well for a while which helps give me the energy I need to power through another day; smile that this body has been through a lot, and yet I can stand tall and be proud of who I am today, and who I continue to grow into.

I want to promise you that I will try and do better. I know my acceptance of you has been a tumultuous journey, but as I enter a new phase of my life, I want to start taking better care of you for the right reasons, and loving you every day for all I am capable of, because of you. I want to take the time to genuinely acknowledge and be grateful that my body and mind are fully functioning, as I know there are many people who cannot say the same. I want to show you love and respect and kindness and compassion and understanding, not out of any desire for you to change, but as an act of acceptance.

I won’t always get it right, but I will try to get it right more often than not. Let’s do this thing.

Love, Renae’s Brain


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